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First Project Spartan Browser Preview Released

Microsoft released the first preview of its next-generation browser, code-named "project Spartan," with the latest test build of Windows 10 this week.

The Project Spartan browser is included with the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10049 and when downloaded, Project Spartan made its presence known the first time Windows 10 booted up.

As promised last week, Internet Explorer 11 is included as a separate browser and is unchanged, deviating from an earlier plan to include Project Spartan's new EdgeHTML rendering engine, which the company argues is much faster, more secure and reliable. Microsoft claims that the new browser is better suited for modern apps than Internet Explorer. Project Spartan is said to lack Microsoft's legacy Trident rendering engine, but Microsoft has also suggested that Project Spartan will  have good compatibility with Web apps and intranet sites nonetheless. For organizations not seeing that compatibility, though, IE will still be around.

 "It is fast, compatible and built for the modern Web. Project Spartan is designed to work the way you do, with features enabling you to do cool things like write or type on a Web page," said Joe Belfiore , Microsoft corporate VP for operating systems, in a blog post. "It's a browser that is made for easy sharing, reading, discovery and getting things done online."

Project Spartan aims to deemphasize the fact that you're using a browser, effectively putting the user's focus on the content, Belfiore said. The new browser integrates with Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and introduced into the Windows 10 Technical Preview. When I highlighted text in a page Cortana guessed what I was looking for and rendered it alongside the page I was reading. It uses the Bing search engine to find information and it will be interesting to see if Windows 10 (with the new browser) gives a boost to Microsoft's search share, now dominated by Google.

The new Project Spartan browser also introduces a new feature called "inking," which lets users type or write with an electronic pen directly onto the Web page. You can make comments on a piece of the page and share it as a Web note either as an e-mail or onto social networks. It's similar to marking up a PDF file. Belfiore also pointed out that users can easily compile Web Notes and save them in Microsoft OneNote. In my quick test of that feature, it permitted ne to share the Web Note on Facebook, Twitter, Yammer and several other networks and apps such as Microsoft OneNote, though there was no obvious way to send it as an e-mail.

Also new in the Project Spartan browser are Reading Lists and Reading Views, designed to make it easier to put aside information from Web pages. It does so by letting you save any Web page or PDF into a Reading List for easy access at a later time. I saved a file to a reading list which in a way combines the function of Favorites and Web browsing histories, except you choose what's key to that history and can organize it accordingly.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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